These members who have joined Umno believe it is time to 'reactivate the synergy between Umno and Usno'.
Usno, which was once the backbone of the Sabah Alliance government under chief minister Mustapha Harun – from 1967 until 1976 – was the reason Umno arrived in Sabah.
Usno, under Mustapha, gave Umno a shortcut entry into Sabah politics to form the government through Barisan Nasional.
According to former Usno secretary-general Onn Ariffin, Usno had agreed to allow Umno into Sabah believing that the two could unite the fragmented Bumiputeras under the peninsula-based party.
But that has not been the case.
The Usno established by Mustapha in Kampung Ayer, Kudat, on Oct 26, 1961 was dissolved in 1991 to allow all its leaders and members to join Umno en bloc.
Said Onn: “It has been 20 years since Usno allowed Umno into Sabah. Umno is here due to the blessings and sacrifice of Usno…
“[But gratitude has been slow]… there are still grumblings about former Usno leaders not having opportunities to be in the political frontline.”
Reminding Sabah Umno chief Musa Aman of Usno’s history, Onn called on the state leadership to provide room for former members who were “still capable and trusted by the people”.
“The leaders must allow these people to continue their struggle on Umno’s platform and not ostracise or sideline them. These people are still capable and trusted by the people.
“It is important for us to expose winnable leaders who have been silent all this while, ” Onn said in a statement here.
‘Reactivate Umno-Usno synergy’
He also urged the Umno state leadership to take stock of the fact that the brand name “Usno” was being flogged by many parties to woo voters.
“The election is nearing and we must accept the fact that the name Usno is stuck in the heart of Sabahans and has a high value as a party with a distinguished heritage in the state political history despite it not being in existence for so long.
“It is now time to reactivate the synergy between Umno and Usno and whatever differences and negative thinking between them should be set aside,” Onn said.
Onn’s concerns come on the heel of moves by a group of former Usno members – led by one of Mustapha’s sons, Badaruddin – to align themselves with opposition State Reform Party (STAR).
STAR, led by Jeffrey Kitingan, has made tremendous inroads across Sabah and has been flogging the brandname “Usno” as its key ally.
The new Usno – under Badaruddin and Mustapha’s younger brother Abdul Salam Datu Harun – however has not been registered and many believe it is unlikely to see the light of day, especially since it could threaten Umno’s existence in Sabah.
New Usno’s pro tem vice-president Abdullah Sani Abdul Salleh said the party is having difficulty getting the consent of the federal-controlled Registrar of Societies (ROS).
He believed the reluctance to approve Usno’s revival stemmed from Umno’s growing insecurity in the state.
Sabah, once considered Barisan Nasional’s “fixed deposit”, is no longer that.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is riding a political roller-coaster here, making frequent visits in the hope of nuetralising growing resentment against the ruling party and federal-initiated policies as well as curb voter swing to the opposition.